Day 11 - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - The Antrim Coast; Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge; Bushmills Distillery
A three-bus tour group was also at breakfast this morning and then as we were trying to get out the door they were loading their 150 bags after a one-night stay. We were delayed just a wee bit. Thomas sprayed a bit of Air Detox in the bus as a cough and cold bug was going around.
The weather was blustery this morning. Thomas told us that we were experiencing another storm; this one was called Ali. The temperature was 49 degrees and rain was horizontal. We learned why the Irish never carry umbrellas as we saw several people fighting the rain, the wind, and their umbrellas.
Richard took us east along the Causeway Coastal Route for the views but the storm prevented much visibility. We were on the northern coast and at the 55th parallel. Just as a comparison, the US and Canadian border is 49th between Minnesota and the province of Manitoba. Many of the leaves were starting to turn to reds and oranges.
We passed through the town of Bushmills but we did not stop even though several people thought that it would be beneficial for medicinal purposes only. The sun came out just as we arrived at the car park for the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.
The ranger told us they were still open and it was safe for a trek. The wind was blowing at 15 - 25 miles per hour and gusting regularly at over 33 mph. A few people elected to stay in the bus, but most of us took the challenge.
The hike was not that strenuous, but the rocks were slippery and the wind would buffet us as we were exposed to the full force of the gusts. We made it across the bridge, a rope structure, 100 feet high and 70 feet long, used years ago by the salmon fishermen to bring up the daily catch.
The sun came out for a few minutes on the way but our walk back was even windier with a light mist. Just as we got to the Visitor’s Center they closed the rope bridge.
The plan was to go on to visit Giant’s Causeway. Thomas received a text notifying him the rangers had been pulled out and the Causeway was closed due to the storm.
While we sat in the coffee shop Thomas worked on Plan B. Being a tour director is not an easy job! Instead of taking us back to Derry for the rest of the day we retraced our path and drove to Bushmills to visit the distillery.
We hoped for a tour of the facility, but because of the weather, all tours had been canceled. We enjoyed a ham and cheese sandwich, chips, and a Coke in the cafeteria. Vic also had an Irish coffee.
Gennie visited the gift shop and Vic and Christian went to the tasting room. They tried both the Black Bush and the Bushmills Original. Consensus was that the Original was the better of the two.
On the way back to Derry we took a wee detour to the Dark Hedges, also known as Kings Road where The King of Thrones was filmed. Thomas told us that many of the scenes were filmed in Northern Ireland.
In 1775, James Stewart planted the beech trees on both sides of the drive to Grace Hill, the mansion he built for his wife, Grace. Because of the popularity of Game of Thrones, tourists stop for a walk under the ancient branches arching over the roadway.
In another hour’s drive through torrential rains, sunshine, and rainbows, we arrived at the hotel. Gennie checked the weather and found delayed flights and other warnings from the weather service. Threats of flying debris, tiles falling from roofs, falling trees and branches, downed power lines were all projected. And the sun was shining on us in Derry!
We enjoyed a walk about the town and a Chinese dinner. We packed and prepared for our trip to Belfast in the morning. If the weather improves, Thomas has made arrangements for another try at the Giant’s Causeway for the morning.
Accommodations: Maldron Hotel - Meals included: B
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Glad you got to do the rope ridge - not offered on our Road Scholar trip. Sorry that you had to miss Giant's Causeway tho! I am so far behind - we are having way too much fun!!
Great! I hope the weather clears up enough to enjoy the Devil's Causeway... you can actually see Scotland from there. I got in a discussion on the merits of Bushmills vs Jameson and an Irishman said 'Bushmills is Protestant whiskey, I'm sticking with Jamesons!' (some things never change) ha! Did you try the Powers whiskey in the Irish coffee? Have a great rest of your trip! Fall is in the air here.
Glad it was you and not me on the rope bridge, looked scary esp. in the wind and rain.
Such great adventures!
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Still with you and enjoying! Even the rope bridge walk in the wind and rain. Brave ones.
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